The door bounced against Billy’s body, lying inert on the staircase.
They traded several fleeting, nervous glances.
‘He moved,’ said Gavin, laughing. ‘Fucker moved.’
Sean scooted forward and inched the door all the way open, Gavin aiming the gun into the gloom. There was no trail of blood going up the steps. The blood on Billy’s t-shirt and jeans was dried, almost as black as they were. A layer of crust. Moving sidewise along the far wall, gun up, Gavin moved down the staircase.
Billy did not look like he was sleeping. He was still pale, pale like someone who had bled to death, and there was none of the rise and fall, the subtle vitality the living had even when at rest. The thing on the staircase may as well have been a chair. But it was sprawled out and curled up on one side, one arm above its head, the other clutched against its chest, as if holding an invisible blanket or stuffed animal. Like Billy was trying to get comfortable as sleep took him. Gavin kicked at it, with his foot.
It fell over onto its back and slid down the stairs, making a thuddering sound.
‘Fuck! Shit! Fuck!’ cried Sean, running halfway down the stairs, bat aloft.
‘It’s all right! It’s all right!’ Gavin followed after him. Stopping just above the body, he turned and looked up. Blinds or no blinds, sunlight was streaming down the steps through the open doorway, down into the basement.
‘No smoke,’ said Sean, cluing in. ‘Nothing is burning.’
Gavin shrugged. He crouched down and gently placed the barrel against Billy’s lips. Parted them. Moved it up, then down and around. Billy’s teeth were cleaner and whiter then they had ever been, not yellow at all, and his canines looked like they had been replaced with a wolf’s.
Sean gasped. Gavin pulled up, fell against the wall and started laughing, nervous, high, giddy.
‘Fuck.’ Sean said it matter-of-factly. ‘Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.’
‘Vampire,’ said Gavin, laughing between tears. ‘Billy’s a fucking vampire.’
‘I was really hoping he’d turn out to just be a zombie,’ said Sean.
‘Well, what do we do with him?’ said Gavin.
‘You mean, what do we do with a vampire?’
‘Do you think he can hear us?’
Gavin looked at Sean carefully. ‘Hear us?’
‘Like, he’s paralyzed, but has vampire senses, and knows what’s going on around him.’
Gavin gave a kind of oh shit look. Sean reached down and grasped the big hunting knife still sticking out of Billy’s chest. ‘Billy! I’m taking the knife out, OK? Just like you asked.’ He yanked. The knife came free with a crack and a tear, but the bleeding didn’t start up again. The top six inches of the blade were coated in an enamel of dried blood. Sean motioned with his head up the stairs. ‘Just sit tight, Billy, we’ll be back.’
‘Well, the obvious question is, should we stake him?’ asked Gavin, after they had gone into the living room, locking the door behind them.
‘Well, Billy’s our friend, vampire or not, and maybe we should hear what he has to say first.’
‘Has to say first!? What if he has vampire mind powers?’
‘What if staking doesn’t work?’
Gavin thought for a moment. ‘Shit.’
‘I mean, who knows what he’s capable of.’
‘Yeah, yeah. I see where you’re coming from. Staking might just make him angry. And who knows what would happen if we tried cutting his head off.’
‘Let’s hear what he has to say first.’
So Sean went into his room and got a pair of old handcuffs, and they went back down, carried Billy over to the wall and handcuffed him to a thick length of pipe. It was hard work, carrying him over. Billy was bigger than them. Sean was about 5’7”, and Gavin was maybe 5’10” standing straight, but Billy had been 6’3”. It was a lanky 6’3”, but also a wiry and lean one.
After locking the door again, they both left the house, wanting out of there for some of the daylight hours.
Gavin rode the trains, dealt pot, stopped off in an authentic Chinese joint down the street from some high-rises, walked along Lake Michigan.
Sean went to a diner, had breakfast and coffee, took in a matinee, then made a loop of his drug contacts, chatting, buying, selling, asking about Damien. How’s Damien doing? He all right? He square? Haven’t heard much about him lately. Damien’s Damien. Oh, yeah, he fine. Square, why wouldn’t he be square, man, unless you mean, like, clean. What’s there to hear? Then he went to a polish butcher shop, bought a pound of spare ribs and asked for a quart of pig’s blood.